Tsingtao weighs Fosters beer move

Tsingtao weighs Foster's beer move

China's Tsingtao Brewery is reported to be one of the companies eyeing a bid for Foster's beer business.

Both Tsingtao, which is 20% owned by Japan's Asahi, and China's Bright Foods could be in the frame for Foster's, according to the Financial Times newspaper, quoting from a report on mergermarket.com that cited anonymous sources at the companies.

Speculation has grown on possible bids for the Foster's beer business since the group last week announced that it would demerge its beer and wine arms.

Analyst believe the troubled wine division has discouraged brewers from moving in on Foster's.

Tsingtao and Asahi are both looking to expand their presence on the international beer market, although they could face tough competition for Foster's from other brewers, possibly including SABMiller and Suntory.

Foster's CEO Ian Johnston signalled that the group would be open to offers. "The board will always consider any proposal that is in the interest of shareholders," he said following last week's announcement.

If Foster's beer business sold on the same value metrics as Lion Nathan last year then the division could fetch upwards of AUD12.5bn.

The demerger is not scheduled to take place until the first half of 2011 at the earliest.

For just-drinks analysis of the demerger and potential bidders for the beer business, click here.